Senator Barrack Obama spoke from the steps of Oakland’s City Hall late this afternoon. The air was crisp and smelled clean but it was not as crisp as Obama’s use of most of the rhetorical tools a good public speaker has at his command.
Let me say up front I am not a committed backer of Obama and the reasons I have so far reserved my support have nothing to do with the ‘does not have enough experience’ meme. More about that later. I just wanted to put on the record the fact that I am still making up my mind who I will support and work for in the 2008 campaign.
I’m going to, mostly, paraphrase what Obama had to say as my shorthand is essentially non-existent.
After a rousing intro from Oakland Mayor Ronald V. Dellums, during which he brought back memories of the sixties with his syntax and rhetoric about ‘the insanity of war…’, and a somewhat muffled statement by a veteran of The MeatGrinder Obama came on to a enthusiastic welcome.
He took a little time to thank the local political power structure for inviting him to speak in Oakland. tekstone and I wondered to each other just how he ended up in Oakland as he is not, as far as we know, a member of The Progressive Caucus of which our own Barbara Lee is a leader and founder. No, matter Obama was well warmed up by now and launched into the meat of his speech.
‘We understand’ he said that we need comprehensive health-care reform in this country, ‘We understand’ that we need education which educates not a Federal ‘education’ program which punishes for poor performance. A not so subtle dig at ‘The Idiot’s’ failed ‘No Child Left Behind’ program. He doesn’t miss a slamming blow against the war in Iraq. ‘ I am proud that I opposed the war from the start’. And so he should be. He stated for the record that the billions being wasted in Iraq, the lives lost their were keeping us from solving our problems at home.
‘We must bring the troops home. I will bring the troops home as my first order of business. Because you see, we have business for them to here at home.’
Using the repetitive call to arms that many perfected in the sixties. Senator Obama reiterated that,
‘We have business to do here at home.’
He told a number of stories about how Americans have, in the past, rose to the challenges the nation has faced. The standard New Deal fare. Depression, WWII, civil rights he worked all the great Democratic, indeed he theme is that they are American, victories made their appearance.
He spoke out directly in his campaigns now familiar meme against cynicism.
‘We are challenged’ he said, challenged by the myriad of problems we face. But we also know that we have the solutions. We have the means to solve any and all the problems our nation faces.
What then is stopping us. Obama provides the answer with his signature meme.
‘The politics of cynicism are preventing us from coming together to make a better nation.’ he implied.
He touched on the growing disparity of rewards for the American workforce as it racks up new highs in productivity yet sees it’s wages decline while CEOs walk away with obscene amounts of cash for work they did not do.
He stated along with each itemization of the problems we face during this part of the speech with the phrase, ‘We are challenged…’ Sadly, he took a detour here to blame oil-producing nations for our problems with unbridled consumption of energy. He wandered through the usual solutions posed for this, ‘Conservation, alternate energy, wind, solar, etc.
He returned to the ‘politics of cynicism’ meme and put forward his prescription for this disease:
‘We must change our politics…’
He said, and this part I really did feel he connected with the crowd, ‘Don’t let them tell you we can’t do what we know we need to do. Don’t let them tell you…’ and more.
He returned to the bring them home theme as he took this very good speech home.
‘We have business for the young men and women who are in Iraq here at home. And when they come home we will welcome them and take care of them…’
To the ReichWinger scum of the ReThuglican Party and the Neocon Cabal he issued this warning:
‘Don’t stand next to the flag and say you support the troops and then turn your back’
The crowd erupted at that line.
He concluded by asking for our support in his campaign to become President and concluded with this,
‘This campaign is for you, with your support, it can’t be stopped’.
Except for the last two quoted lines I’ve paraphrased what the Senator had to say. It was a very good speech. Not great but you don’t need to be great every day. I see a campaign that is far more progressive than I thought it would be four months ago when it became clear that Obama was going to run. I question two of the basic memes Obama is using. He is still talking as if the reason the nation’s problems are not being addressed is a lack of belief that the tools, money and expertise to solve the ones he mentioned much less the many others he didn’t have time to speak of exist.
This is not the real problem.
The real problem is that their is no small number of Americans who are getting rich off of letting these problems grow. Military Keysianism is real. The wholesale looting of the U.S. Treasury by ReThug apparatchiks running the reconstruction of NOLA, the heinous ‘No Child Left Behind’ scam and many others is real. Indeed most of Bush’s ‘programs’ are designed to not only destroy the government’s ability to provide the help citizens can and should expect from it but also to provide the mechanism whereby ReThugs can line their pockets with billions.
Obama has nothing to say about this.
That’s a problem for me. You cannot defeat your enemy if you cannot identify him to the people.
Obama also fails too tell people that they are going to have to do a whole lot more than just vote for him.
They are going to have to re-examine their way of life. We use too much energy. We care about things that don’t matter. Briteny Spears anyone? We think everyone in the world should love us.Many Americans still think we are an exceptional people and thus are entitled to consume more than our fair share of what the planet can provide.
We are gonna have to change our whole way of living if we are to survive.
Obama may feel that it’s too early to broach these admittedly disturbing subjects with the voter.
I believe he’s wrong about that as I believe we are out of time to change our ways.
That said, I really enjoyed watching a great speaker who is trying to grow into the sort of leader our country needs.
Keep it up Senator.
Here’s a picture of the mighty tekstone and our dear friend Annie of local fame as they are waiting to get admitted to the event which was quite well organized and run.
Despite my criticisms it was a great day and a great political event for Oakland and progressives everywhere. I look forward to watching Barrack Obama put the hurt on those who think they rule us.